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The American Friend
The American Friend
Actors: Ismael Alonso, Gérard Blain, Lou Castel, Andreas Dedecke, Jean Eustache
Director: Wim Wenders
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Horror, Mystery & Suspense
UR     2003     2hr 5min

Jonathan zimmermann a picture framer in hamburg is diagnosed with leukemia. Ripley an american art dealer dealing in forgeries uses this fact to arrange for a mob associate to associate to recruit zimmermann as a hit man. ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Ismael Alonso, Gérard Blain, Lou Castel, Andreas Dedecke, Jean Eustache
Director: Wim Wenders
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Horror, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Horror, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic
DVD Release Date: 01/07/2003
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2002
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 2hr 5min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 13
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: German, English
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Highsmith and the cinema
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Patricia Highsmith (who died in 1995) ranks as one of the most accomplished yet recondite writers of fiction to emerge from the United States in this century. Graham Greene, in a forward to a collection of her short stories, referred to her as "the poet of apprehension." Unfortunately, although a number of her novels have been adpated for the screen, beginning with Hitchcock's "Strangers on a Train" and most recently in Anthony Minghella's bastardized "The Talented Mr. Ripley", these attempts have almost exclusively been of a mediocre and inchoate standard. Wim Wender's 1977 film "Der Amerikanische Freund" is an overwhelming exception. Though the locations and plot lines of the original novel (third in the Ripley series) was substantially altered, Wenders was able to capture the essential character of the books two unlikely protaganists. Hopper's Ripley is brimming over with unstated homoerotic menace, while Ganz plays the naive and desperate Jonathan to perfection. The central attribute of a Highmsith novel is not a feeling of suspense so mauch as one of delocalized discomfort, unease that has no rational causal locus. Combine this with the film's aesthetic sensibility, the use of strong and unnatural filters to carnivalize the vision of seagulls soaring lazily over a Hamburg dawn, the effervescent green light of a paris metro station, and you have something no less than a low-key masterpiece."
A Meditative Masterpiece
D. Klees | United States | 11/15/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Despite the casting of a well-known (some would say, "infamous") American actor in the form of Dennis Hopper, Wim Wenders' take on the very American "film noir" style in "The American Friend" was every bit a fit with the work that came before and after. The same thoughtful approach to character and story that animates Wenders' "road movies" is also on display in this adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's novel "Ripley's Game.""The American Friend" draws the viewer into its web with subtle twists, a captivating atmosphere and excellent performances by Dennis Hopper as the mysterious Ripley and Bruno Ganz (later to star in Wenders' "Wings of Desire") as the ordinary man who gets caught up in Ripley's web. With its exceptionally careful pacing, the film is certainly not for everyone. For those willing to embrace Wenders' unique approach, however, the end result is a truly gripping film that will stay with you long after some more viscerally thrilling movies have faded from memory."
With friends like these. . . .
D. Klees | 03/05/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"One of the best adaptations of a Patricia Highsmith novel (*Ripley's Game*) ever filmed, and one of Wim Wenders' best movies, too. But, according to the commentary on this DVD, Ms. Highsmith was originally aghast at Wenders' treatment of the story -- it's a very loose adaptation -- and of the character Tom Ripley (Dennis Hopper in a cowboy hat, a figure radically different from the suave manipulator in the book). As the years passed, she apparently grew reconciled to the movie on its own terms, and why not? -- the themes of the seductiveness of evil and of the abyss yawning below any "normal" person's life are rigorously limned in *The American Friend*. And Wenders brings some ideas of his own to this material, most notably the distasteful spectacle of a dominant world power and culture (e.g., the United States) crassly pirating the leavings of an older civilization (e.g., European): a way of life and thought, even a fraudulent version of it, is available to the highest bidder only. Above and beyond the intellectual stuff, the movie also happens to have several suspenseful stretches. Best example: the scene where the modest picture-framer from Hamburg (a never-better Bruno Ganz), having been roped into being a hitman due to the machinations of an insulted Tom Ripley, ineptly tails an American gangster through the subterranean Paris metro. Ganz needs the money for his family, but he's in bad health (a heart condition), and can barely stay alert while fighting anxiety attacks and physical exhaustion. Great stuff! Also of note is a prolonged and quite humorous assassination attempt aboard a speeding bullet train. (Hopper and Ganz share swigs from a flask and giggle at each other while guarding the murder scene -- the lavatory -- from discovery.) Wenders and his brilliant DP, Robby Muller, add to the atmosphere of malaise with the judicious use of pulpy color, blinding carnival-esque neon, and garish camera filters (blood-red skies at sunset and such). As for the performances: Hopper's Ripley really doesn't come alive until the last stretch, when he's given more time to work through his performance. Part of the problem is that the character -- in this movie -- is more of an idea rather than a fleshed-out human being. This is Bruno Ganz' movie all the way, and he makes the most of it. It's an unforgettable performance. It's a pretty unforgettable movie, on the whole. [The DVD's commentary, by Wenders and Hopper, is almost worth the price of admission on its own. It's enjoyable to listen to two old pros whose careers are full of accomplishments . . . one of which, of course, is *The American Friend*.]"
Never slight Mr Ripley - a horror film par excellence
Ian Muldoon | Coffs Harbour, NSW Australia | 10/14/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The first chilling moment in this film is when relatively poor and struggling art framer and cultured European (Swiss) Bruno Ganz is introduced to art dealer American (Dennis Hopper)) Tom Ripley at an art auction, and refuses to shake his hand. From that moment, Mr Ganz is more or less doomed. One theme of this film is the clash between two cultures, or at least two attitudes to art, money versus art, the contempt each has for the other. Another theme is how thrilling it would be to kill anyone who makes a fool of us in public. From the moment of the slight, the doomed Mr Ganz is slowly brought to his end - the mis en scene becomes a horror show of ordinary things made threatening, seagulls, art frames he works on he starts bumping into, a television set which is off zaps him with static electricity when he touches it, he stumbles in to objects whilst waiting for a train, the doodling on a piano by a "medical student" gangster becomes an atonal nightmare. The moment when Mr Ganz breathes onto the finest piece of gold leaf we can see him realising the breath of life is so precious, but he's losing it and he knows it.
A stunning cinematic experience. A masterpiece and perhaps the finest transformation of Ms Highsmith's many Ripley adaptations, notwithstanding Mr Hitchcock."